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Placement: Startup Spotlight shines on Snackdish

See what GeekWire has to say today about Snackdish and the cool work they are doing for TV and movie fans – just in time for the 2015 TV and movie season!


GeekWire Startup Spotlight shines on Snackdish – or click on above graphic

Social Media outreach for: Blackburn – The Movie (Teaser Trailer)

Blackburn – The Movie: A forest fire and rock-slide trap five bickering college friends in a small Alaskan ghost town with a horrifying history. When they seek refuge inside the torched ruins of Blackburn Asylum they must fight to survive as the angry inhabitants slaughter the friends one-by-one.

Look Book: “Blackburn” Horror Movie

“Look Book” for Blackburn, the movie. View the PDF here: The Blackburn Look Book.The image below is a 2 page sample from the dark and creepy brochure designed for press, distributors, and investors.

Blackburn Look Book

Blackburn Look Book

Trade Shows and Media Events: 100 Lanyards and Counting

Show Badges

Partial list of events and conferences I’ve helped organize and attended: CES, E3, NAB, CEDIA, CeBIT (Germany), GDC (Game Developers Conference), Networld+interop, Streaming Media East/West, IDF (Intel Developer Forum), PCExpo, ISTE (The International Society for Technology in Education, previously NECC, National Educational Computing Conference), the Sundance Film Festival, and SXSW in Austin.

Microsoft conferences and press events: Microsoft’s Management Summit, CEO Summit, Sneak Peak, Xtreme, EXchange, Build/MIX, TechEd (now part of Microsoft Ignite), Microsoft Global Exchange, Microsoft’s Marketing Conference (MGX), Worldwide Partner Conference, major product launches: Windows 95, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows XP (launch and RTM), Windows Media Center, Xbox.

Sounds like I’ve done it all. Not quite! I have not yet attended the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as an exhibitor — though I’ve been to the city during the conference. Ditto for Comi-Con in San Diego.

Last Comdex
With my PCs at Comdex (abbreviation for Computer Dealers’ Exhibition). Comdex was held in Las Vegas each November from 1979 until its demise in 2003. It used to be the biggest and baddest boy around. It’s all gone, supplanted by CES. Why? Because consumer electronics ARE computers now, and vice-versa.

With my team at MGX
With my team at MGX (Microsoft Sales and Marketing Conference)

Placement: “Blackburn” Horror Movie

Calum Worthy on the set of his horror movie “Blackburn” – Calum is a Canadian actor, writer and producer best known for his role as Dez on the Disney Channel show Austin & Ally and The Coppertop Flop Show.

Numerous similar placements during the filming of the movie in order to garner some early buzz.

Placement: Blackburn (3B client)

Photo credit:

Placement: “Blackburn” Horror Movie

Ken Kirzinger, Brad Loree join Blackburn cast

The horror actors join an ensemble cast that also includes Lochlyn Munro and Emilie Ullerup for the 3B Entertainment production.

Photo via Newscom

Ken Kirzinger

Final casting details have been announced for Vancouver-based 3B Entertainment’s horror film Blackburn, with Ken Kirzinger and Brad Loree joining an ensemble cast which also includes Sarah Lind and Zack Peledeau.

Other actors set to appear in Blackburn are Lochlyn Munro, Emilie Ullerup (Arctic Air), Calum Worthy (Austin & Ally) and Alexander Calvert. The film will be directed by Lauro Chartrand, who also directed the Steven Seagal-starring action film Born to Raise Hell.

“This is one of those situations where Lauro has been able to put together a brilliant ensemble,” producer Corr Pearce told Playback Daily.

The film will start production on June 2 in the Squamish, B.C. area and will make use of the Britannia Mine Museum historic site. Blackburn will be shot over 14 days, on a budget of about $916,000.

Along with Pearce, producers on Blackburn are John Sereda and Natasha Baron. Baron also served as the writer on Blackburn. The film will be distributed by Raven Banner Entertainment.

– Image courtesy of Shutterstock 

Read more:

Windows is Dead, Long Live Windows

My title is, of course, a reference to the proclamation, “The king is dead, long live the king!” (Itself a translation from the French, Le roi est mort, vive le roi!) In a few words, it grandly conveys the notion of continuity and stability. The moment a monarch dies, a new one takes his place. Both succinct and inspiring, the phrase is designed to remind the masses that there is nothing to fear, the empire is still here, so don’t reach for your pitchforks and torches just yet.

Le roi est mort, vive le roi! is a magnificent example of messaging and the art of public relations. It takes what may be a scary and confusing situation and reduces it to a simple and elegant, easy to remember phrase. It comes to mind now as Microsoft officially ends support for Windows XP today, more than 12 years after its release. That’s a good run for an operating system. If you are still using XP at home it really is time to move on. But have no fear; Windows XP is dead, but Windows is not. Windows 8 is the latest iteration, but I’ll admit to recently upgrading my mother to Windows 7 (from Vista) to minimize the learning curve. Newer or newest, my point remains the same; there is another Windows operating system out there for you. No reason to panic just because an older one is passing away.


As I was one of the legion that helped usher in the Windows XP era, it seems only fitting that I add my voice to those saying goodbye. Windows XP was released to manufacturing (RTM) on August 24, 2001. I had a part in putting together the press event on the Redmond soccer fields to mark the occasion. A couple of months later in New York City I was leading the partner PR efforts at the launch party marking the public release. In between those two events was the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center buildings. As you can imagine, it was a trying and emotional time. I have to admit that our crisis planning did not include the possibility of such an unthinkable attack (regrettably, now any sizable public event must take this into consideration). As you might expect, the PR team considered cancelling the launch event. But the show went on. Regis Philbin hosted and joked with Bill Gates, sometimes awkwardly, essentially admitting at one point, “Frankly, I don’t understand this stuff…” and Mayor Guilanni made a special appearance to declare that New York was open for business.

Windows XP-03 - cropped

My strongest memories of the Windows XP launch event are more personal. I distributed free XP watches and umbrellas to Times Square vendors in the hours before the show, the idea being that they would in turn hawk the goods to passersby – creating street “buzz.” Giving away stuff is always fun. (I still have one of those umbrellas. Just today my daughter opened it for our April showers.) After the launch event, held at Times Square’s Marriott Marquis Theatre, the entire PR team went clubbing, guided by our NYC counterparts who knew the trendiest nightspots. Many hours later I was wandering Times Square in the dawn’s early light, searching for a bite to eat at 4:30 a.m. (I ended up having a very satisfying hamburger). Later that same day I walked over to the Windows sponsored Sting concert in Bryant Park. In an odd coincidence, Martha Stewart (yes, that Martha Stewart) wandered over, having just left a meeting in the area. Martha asked me what was going on. I don’t recall what exactly I said to her, but I hope it was something along the lines of, “Windows is dead. Long live Windows! So keep calm, and carry on!”

Windows XP-11

Placement: Meet the Geek of the Week

This blog is (mostly) about my experience in marketing communications and PR. My goal with is to provide the reader a glimpse behind the marcomm curtain by revealing some of the tricks of the trade, while having a bit of fun along the way.

I’ve got a quick one for today – good PR is about people. Maybe that’s too obvious an observation. After all the “P” in PR stands for public, and the public is made up of people. The difference is that the public is a vague, anonymous mass while people are individuals. People are funny and interesting. You can form an emotional relationship with people. Facts and statistics have their place when you are trying to get your message across, but a good people story is engaging to read, and therefore often more effective.

Which brings us to the Geek of the Week. GeekWire’s “Geek of the Week” column is one of the site’s most popular standing features — spotlighting the geekiest characters of the Seattle region in profiles that are informative, entertaining, and inspiring. reaches millions of readers with over half a million unique visitors per month and well over 30,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Kevin Hall, CEO and Founder of Snackdish, Geek of the Week.

This week’s Geek of the Week is my friend Kevin Hall, CEO and Founder of Snackdish, a social TV and movie application. (Update: Snackdish closed shop in 2018.) I wrote about Snackdish last month in my Cracking the Second Screen post. It was an insightful look at the current state of social TV, if I must say so myself. But it isn’t as engaging as reading a bit about the geek who’s building this new service. Take a look at Kevin and the other people profiled. It’s fun and addictive reading.

Cracking the Second Screen


Ten years ago, I was working on Windows Media Center at Microsoft. Back then Media Center was a new paradigm and part of Microsoft’s two pronged strategy to gain a foothold in the living room (Xbox, being the other). At the time we were touting the awesome power of the PC to bring together all of your digital media in one place. Nowadays, that role has largely been supplanted by the internet where all of your media can be made available to many types of devices.

But I don’t think we had it wrong. Not that part at least. The new paradigm we were really trying to address with the Media Center was accessing this content via remote control, the “10 foot experience” as opposed to the laptop or desktop computer “2 foot experience.” Even back then we recognized that Media Center PC’s were an interim step; a powerful device that could store and serve your local digital content with the touch of a button. Ten years ago, that’s where the content was. Now much of that once local media (your music collection, photos, etc.) is being stored on the web.

Demonstrating Windows Media Center 2004, Hollywood, CA
Demonstrating Windows Media Center 2004, Hollywood, CA

What we didn’t foresee at the time was the rise of the second screen. We assumed that the TV itself would become more interactive and that this interaction would take place on the big screen alongside the broadcast. While some of this is happening today (notably with Xbox) the real action nowadays is on mobile devices. Viewers are using smartphones and tablets to supplement their TV experiences. A 2012 Nielsen study found 45% of tablet owners in the US use their devices in front of a TV on a daily basis. Other studies have even higher percentages for these interactive users, known as “second screeners.” While some of these folks are merely multitasking to squeeze some extra productivity into their day (writing blog posts with the TV on – oops! ;-) the leap to true TV interactivity is a logical and easy one. Share a comment on Facebook about the football game, read a friend’s or celebrity’s Tweet about that singing competition, or look up an actor’s name, and you are a fully engaged and interactive second screener. Welcome to the club!

The second screen is just what is sounds like, an additional screen for consuming or interacting with media/content. While watching something on one device (typically a television set), information and content is displayed on an independent companion device such as a tablet, smartphone or laptop. The idea is that related content is being displayed that further enhances the primary screen experience.

There’s a big push right now to crack the second screen opportunity. But nobody is getting it right, yet. Facebook and Twitter are the two obvious options for people, but the networks, studios and programmers are also jumping into the fray. All of this adds up to a disjointed experience for the second screener. What is needed is a consistent, flowing experience that keeps users engaged whether it’s a sporting event, TV show or movie. An intermediary service if you will, a third party (mobile) app that aggregates all of the second screen experiences.

I am doing some marcomm consulting for a company planning to provide just such a service. Snackdish is an online platform that lets friends connect over movies and TV shows in a user-defined virtual third place. The name “Snackdish” comes from the dish of snacks that your mom might put out on the coffee table for friends to share while watching the big game or, in my house when I was a kid, the Disney Sunday Movie. In a busy, grownup world, that snack dish has become virtualized and metaphorically accessible via our second screens.

Full disclosure: my role at Snackdish involves helping them tell their story, so you might expect that I’m not an impartial judge about their potential or strategy for cracking the secret of the second screen. But I can tell you that they are starting out in the right way. Snackdish is taking their cues from second screeners and building their product around the types of things that these viewers are doing today, albeit with mismatched tools. Snackdish is building their service around this new paradigm, rather than trying to make the paradigm adjust to their existing platform (ala Twitter and Facebook) or force-feed the show/product that they are trying to promote (ala programmers and advertisers).

Join me in wishing the Snackdish crew the best of luck. And for the next month you can join me in supporting their Indeigogo fundraising campaign. Rest assured that all of the money raised from this campaign will go towards the fast and lean development of their service and website, none towards my exorbitant consulting fees!

Snackdish on Facebook
The Snackdish page on Facebook

Video: Introducing Snackdish

I scripted and produced the video for Snackdish:

Snackdish is the new way to watch and check-in to your favorite shows and movies. This video shows what Snackdish does, and how it helps you stay connected with your friends and favorite shows.

Have you ever had a friend post on Facebook about a show or movie, and friends comment about it? Or have you been at a party and the conversation shifts to a show, and then those who love that show excitedly discuss it and do a fast catchup of all the major highlights?

I see that all the time because I am a huge movie and TV fan. I have my favorite quotes from my favorite movies and shows. And I love watching TV and movies with my friends because it’s more fun to share what’s going on with them. But I cannot always be with my friends.

But that wish to share and watch shows with your friends remains. While people watch over five hours of TV a day, we now often do this alone. Ironically, people enjoy and learn more from the shows they watch when they discuss them with others.